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Catherine Carmier Paperback – March 31, 1993

4.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Gaines's] best writing is marked by what Ralph Ellison, describing the blues, called near-tragic, near-comic lyricism." -- Newsweek

From the Inside Flap

By the author of A Lesson Before Dying and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Catherine Carmier is a compelling love story set in a deceptively bucolic Louisiana countryside, where blacks, Cajuns, and whites maintain an uneasy coexistence.

After living in San Francisco for ten years, Jackson returns home to his benefactor, Aunt Charlotte. Surrounded by family and old friends, he discovers that his bonds to them have been irreparably rent by his absence. In the midst of his alienation from those around him, he falls in love with Catherine Carmier, setting the stage for conflicts and confrontations which are complex, tortuous, and universal in their implications.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (March 31, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679738916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679738916
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #518,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dera R Williams on May 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
The reviews thus far tell little of what this story is about. Although I read it several years ago, as I remember this book, or at least a part of it, centered on the intra-racial divide between those of African descent. The Creoles of color, particularly in the region of the book, have long maintained a somewhat separate status from blacks based on a caste system determined by mixed blood and lineage. The "forgotten people" have maintained they have black blood, but emphasize their heritage also include French, Spanish, and most times Native American blood. Although a great many Creoles eventually assimilated into the black community, during the time of this story, (the 60s, I think) most of them kept a separate status from blacks, thought they were subject to the most part to the same Jim Crow laws and racism as blacks (unless of course, they chose to pass for white- a whole other subject). When Jackson encounters Catherine, they act upon an attraction they had from their school-age days. The unwillingness of both families to accept is at the heart of the story. That a group of people by virtual of the fact they have mixed blood (for that matter, how many blacks are not mixed- whole other book)descended from French planters deem themselves better or superior to others of more distinct African blood and all the ignorance that prevails because of this belief is what this is all about. The reviews talk about Cajuns and indeed this is Cajun country and the different cultures interact, but it is the Creoles of Color that this book is about. Mr. Gaines handles this with his first-hand knowledge of growing up in Louisiana and all of its idiosyncracies regarding race and class. Though the book left me saddened, I enjoyed the subject matter.
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Format: Paperback
Catherine Carmier is on the surface a story about a young man that returns, after a ten year hiatus and recieving an education, to his boyhood home in the rual parts of Louisiana and falls in love with a local girl. This love sets the tense and uneasy tone throughout which Earnest J. Gaines craftfully reveals much deeper issues; issues of race, distance, family loyalty and shame, and the consquences of forbidden love. Gaines also shows that every part of society has its own set code of honor and unwritten and unspoken ediquette. These are revealed through the furtive glances and actions of the characters as well as dialog, which carry subtle meanings and implications. These are like tyring to disguise the meaning of a telephone conversation when someone else walks into the room, and the person who has walked in is trying to figure-out what is being implied. Gaines has talent for pianting ordinary life with such color that at times the reader feels smoothered by the feelings and characters flowing from the pages, thus it is impossibles not to be drawn into the story. He brings the ordinary person closer to this part of our history and culture.
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Format: Paperback
Gaines captures Louisiana culture to a 'T'. As someone who spends a lot of time there, the Carmiers, Jackson, Charlotte and Mary Louise ring true. HIs descriptions and elegant choice of words are just plain gorgeous. Wonderful classic.
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Format: Paperback
Catherine Carmier is a novel set in south Louisiana in the mid 1900s. It is a story about race, education,and freedom. Jackson comes home after 10 years of schooling in California to find that this is not the home that he remembers. Conflicts between his Aunt Charlotte and Catherine Carmier create the major plot lines of the novel.Ernest Gaines did a great job of depicting Louisiana life during the mid 1900s. Good book, easy read.
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Format: Paperback
Catherine Carmier is yet another view into the nature of life and living in the deep south during the mid twentieth century. The usual elements of race and religion are present throughout the novel, and Gaines masterfully manipulates these subjects to push the plot and characters forward.

The third person narrative tells the story of the impact the male character Jackson has upon his departure and eventual return to his home. Times have changed during Jackson's stint in college in California, yet some things always remain the same.

Though Catherine Carmier may not be life altering as some of Gaines' other works have been, such as A Lesson Before Dying, this novel is still masterfully crafted and is a credit to Gaines' style and brilliance. A great read and a treat to any who may wish to read it.
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By Kaggy on February 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Gaines is an award winning great author. I especially enjoy his novels because he reflects every nuance of the culture where he grew up, and I can relate to as a fellow Louisianian. The issue of race and skin color among African Americans in a small town, as revealed in this novel, was no surprise to me. Yet, it will probably be instructive to others outside our culture and history. Beyond race and skin color, however, the messages of love and family are universal.
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